August 22, 2023 at 1:50 a.m.
Commissioners Talk Affordable Housing
It would be nice if everyone could afford a three or four bedroom home with two and a half baths on a couple of acres of land--but that isn't true. While some are vehemently against apartments or smaller houses on smaller lots, they may be the only real solution to our housing shortage.
It wasn't an official item on the agenda for Monday night's (August 21st) Lincoln County Commissioners meeting, but it became a topic of a brief discussion after the Commissioners voted on items for which public hearings had been held at the August 7th joint meeting with the Planning Board.
Commissioners spoke briefly about 'workforce housing,' the currently popular term for affordable housing that will be needed to provide homes for the hundreds of new employees local industries are expecting to hire over the next few years.
I'd love to recommend that you read our editorial published back in April "Yesterday's Solution to Today's Problem." Unfortunately, since our website crashed a few weeks ago, all the articles from then were lost, and even if you find a link to it on Facebook or google, you can't access the article--and neither can we.
In it, I suggested that the housing shortage--which is a problem all across the country, not just in Lincoln County--may require an old solution to a current problem.
In the editorial, I said that one of the most significant reasons for homelessness is the lack of affordable housing, but the high cost of housing is affecting many more than those who are homeless. Truthfully, if I didn't already own a home, in today's marketplace, I couldn't afford one.
Commissioner Cathy Davis suggested that 'workforce housing' (affordable homes that those who aren't blessed with high-paying jobs) might be required as a part of new developments; but Jeremiah Combs said other counties had tried that--with mixed results: in some cases, builders found the requirement reason not to build in that county but moved on to other projects that would make them more money.
In that April editorial, the old solution we suggested is involving industries in the effort to provide affordable housing for their workers. We weren't suggesting so much 'tract housing' (which Davis mentioned in her comment) but truthfully, even if very similar houses were built in a neighborhood on smaller lots, for some less affluent families, it would mean they could have a 'starter home' with the aspiration to move into something bigger and better when they could afford it.
I know it was a different world when I was growing up, but we lived in a four-room house with no indoor plumbing, no air conditioning, no tv. When I was in elementary school, we finally got that indoor bathroom and a television and eventually air conditioning. I'm not suggesting that people start out as poor as we were, but the truth is, there is a huge need for homes that don't cost a quarter million dollars or more.
If it takes a joint public-private partnership to make it happen, it should be done.